3D Printed Head Fools Android Face Recognition, iPhone X 'Impenetrable'

Forbes recently challenged a variety of smartphone face-recognition systems with a 3d printed head modeled after the author's head.

The head was printed at Backface in Birmingham, U.K., where I was ushered into a dome-like studio containing 50 cameras. Together, they combine to take a single shot that makes up a full 3D image.


The final model took a few days to generate at the cost of just over £300. With it, the author tested it out against four Android smartphones and the iPhone X. All Android phones tested were able to be unlocked with the fake 3d printed head.

If you're an Android customer, though, look away from your screen now. We tested four of the hottest handsets running Google's operating systems and Apple's iPhone to see how easy it'd be to break into them. We did it with a 3D-printed head. All of the Androids opened with the fake. Apple's phone, however, was impenetrable.

The Android phones tested included the LG G7 ThinQ, Samsung S9, Samsung Note 8 and OnePlus 6.

It's been long known that many implementations of facial recognition amongst Android phones have been less secure than Apple's Face ID system. Some of those face recognition systems have been fooled with simple photographs. Apple's Face ID, however, also includes IR depth mapping and attention awareness technology. The attention awareness alone may be enough to explain the inability for a static 3d printed head to unlock the iPhone X. That said, the iPhone X's Face ID has been fooled in the past with more sophisticated printed 3d heads.

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
17 months ago

Impenetrable? Not really.

https://www.cso.com.au/article/629951/researchers-fool-iphone-x-face-id-150-3d-printed-face/

Not anticipating anyone going through the trouble of making a 3D head to get into my phone.
Score: 61 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
17 months ago
Proof that apple remains the best, and does things the right way.

Let’s face it, Android is a big fake.
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
17 months ago
Impenetrable or not, the simple fact is that we’ve seen very little news about anyone getting past FaceID. This is Apple. It attracts negative news like a magnet. If FaceID was not secure, we’d be hearing about it all the time. The banks trust it with Apple Pay. Customers trust it. It’s a heck of a lot more secure than most alternatives.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
17 months ago
I think it’s telling for my banking app allows me to unlock the app using Face ID for iOS devices but not with face authentication features on android devices. Apple put in the hard work to make it every bit as secure as Touch ID, if not while, while android smartphone OEMs simply crammed in said feature just to tick off a feature checkbox.

And people still go around conflating the two.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
17 months ago
Apple is ahead in security, am i right?
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
17 months ago

Much prefer the fingerprint sensor.

I own a Pixel 3 XL now after owning iPhones for 11 years.

Not wanting face ID is one of the many reasons I decided to switch.

You also lose out on iMessages, integration with the Mac and iPad, and having to rely on Google for services because iCloud is now out of reach.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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